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NAUTICAL NIRVANA: Dempsey surrounded by dinghys
The Athens bronze medallist, who is going for gold at the home Games this summer, praised the enthusiasm of the youngsters from St George’s Primary School on Portland participating in the SSE Energy event.
The gold-level sponsor of the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy worked with the island school’s Olympic champion Alice Clark, to arrange for the Year 6 pupils to meet the Olympian and race model boats, which they decorated with good luck messages for the British sailors.
Nick Dempsey, of Wyke Regis, said: “It’s lovely, kids are just amazing, they’re always so enthusiastic, I love it.
“They’re all over the Olympic sailing, it’s amazing how many of them have actually been sailing.
“When I asked, about 90 per cent put their hands up.
“I’m impressed with their good luck messages, their spelling and handwriting is very good.”
He added: “I just came from a normal background, the same as these kids.
“There’s no reason why they couldn’t be the Olympians of the future, especially living here, it’s a pretty ideal place to grow up.”
St George’s pupil Harrison Hooley, aged 11, said: “We came to the sailing academy and wrote good luck messages on boats for the sailors.
“I wrote ‘Have a great time’ and ‘We’re all backing you, don’t capsize and try your best.’ “I come here every Tuesday and go sailing with SailLaser, I’d like to go to the Olympics and win a medal.”
Lauren Ellis, aged 11, said: “It’s actually quite amazing to think that not everyone has the chance to get to see Olympic sailors, we’re actually really lucky.
“I’ve been sailing, I was a bit nervous at first, I grew to like it but I’m not the best at it.”
Amy Kenderdine, aged 11, said: “We’ve done a lot of Olympics stuff in school.
“At the start of Year 6, we did a few lessons here in sailing.
“We’ve also met people who are going to the Olympics this year, and past Olympians.
“It’s a great opportunity for Weymouth and Portland because it doesn’t get the spotlight that often.”
St George’s deputy headteacher Michael Coombs said: “It’s been a day to remember for the youngsters and a great opportunity to meet a world-class athlete and to actually be part of the Olympics that are coming to Weymouth and Portland.
“All our Year 5 children have taken part in the Sail for a Fiver scheme since 2007 and our Year 6s do the level one three-day sailing course.
“We’d like to wish all the athletes competing at the Olympics and Paralympics the best of luck.”
n SSE is a supporter of the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy helping them to generate 20 per cent of their energy through renewable sources by this summer.